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An Unbelievable Thought for You!

While I was serving as a missionary, I had a missionary that I served with who, after discovering that I was a writer, asked me to tell her some of my stories. Since she asked me that a lot, she's heard the majority of my story ideas and even today when we get together will sometimes ask me to "tell her a story". Some of them she's even heard multiple times.

In the process of doing this, I learned something very interesting: it is incredibly helpful to tell someone the entire plot of a story you're trying to write. Nerve-wracking, absolutely. But I've also found it to be really helpful, if it's done with the right person.

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You see, for me, telling the plot of my story out loud forced me to look at just the plot something that can be hard to do when doing the actual writing. It showed me where there we're plot holes or things that just sounded incredibly stupid. And sometimes, in the process of telling the plot aloud, things that we're working would suddenly click into place.

Who you're telling the plot to is also important. My friend gives me very good feedback and asks really excellent questions that are sometimes tough to answer but always leave me thinking. What she asks questions about is also revealing. Is she asking the questions I want her to be asking by this point in the plot? Or is she asking about something I thought I'd already made clear? Or even better, is she jumping somewhere I hadn't even thought of? Those are the best questions because they make me look at my story in a new way.

This is sort of like the process I go through with my alpha readers, except my friend hasn't actually read the words yet, just heard the plot. But she does the same sort of "like this, this needs work, have you thought about this?" process that my alpha readers do. Recently, I told her the basic plot (i.e., what I actually had worked out) to my second novel. She liked it and thought it sounded like it could be really good. She also pointed out a few potential issues (like the fact that the villains in both my novels have similar sounding names. Oops.) and a few things she liked. Mostly she just bolstered my confidence that this idea wasn't completely stupid and that I could actually write it and make it a good story.

Which in some ways, is the most valuable contribution. Every author deserves to have someone who listens to their ideas and tells them, in all honesty and sincerity, that it sounds like it would make a great book and that the writer most certainly can write it!

Every writer has days when they need that. A listening ear, a little constructive criticism, and an assurance that the idea is sound and that it can indeed be written and you are the writer to do it.

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Posted in Photograph Post Date 03/23/2016


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